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PMS GPs urged to press for pension contributions

Patients will face a 'distressing' 80-mile trip to get treatment if a community hospital in Cumbria is closed, a GP who practises at the hospital warns.

Dr Michael Hanley said the Alston Cottage Hospital had been targeted for closure by local health managers because it was a 'soft option'.

The 12-bed hospital which serves 2,400 patients had been scheduled for closure on 21 November, Dr Hanley said, but Eden Valley PCT had 'backtrack-ed' on the plan.

He said: 'If it is closed, the biggest effect will be on the quality of care for local people ­ patients may have to travel 80 miles. This will be distressing for them and their families.'

A spokeswoman for Eden Valley PCT denied there were plans to close the hospital: 'We had a situation to do with staff shortages for inpatients but it definitely isn't closing.'

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